November 14, 2002
David Noble

Transcript of a Q&A with David Noble

There is no question whatsoever that Wall Street perceives education as the successor to health care as the major target for investment. It's for that reason that they talk about EMOs (educational matienance organizations) as the analog to HMOs. As all Americans know, any analog to HMOs will be a disaster. The intentions are clear and, indeed, explicit, but I don't accept the future that they propose. And so I don't use the language of "trends." The future will be what we decide we want it to be, which is why I spend as much time as I do fighting these agendas and trying to forge a different one.

A Talking History interview with Noble (realaudio, scroll down).

A Democracy Now! show with David Noble as a guest (realaudio, scroll down).

Another collection of quotes and interview bits with--you guessed it--David Noble (part 2). Including this interesting bit on why he doesn't use email:

"Quite. It's funny, I'm assailed in one way or another -- in jest or not -- every day on this issue. I don't say e-mail is horrible: I just say 'no, thank you.' I don't want to play the game. The game is supposed to be that there's a choice: 'this is technology, this is a tool, you can use it or not.' Well, that's not true. The peer pressure is enormous. The employment pressure is enormous.

"When I came to Harvey Mudd and they said 'here's your e-mail address,' I said 'thanks but no thanks. I don't do e-mail.' And they didn't understand what I was saying. It was almost incomprehensible to them.

"It's a decision I make based upon my experience: I find that I don't want to be accessible, especially to my boss. Most workers spend a lot of their efforts trying to avoid being accessible to their boss; that's a very important part of working. The idea that someone can e-mail me and say, 'I e-mailed you an hour ago and I haven't heard from you' is appalling. Now they say, 'where's Dave?' And that's the way I want it!

"By not having e-mail, I have a tremendous filter, so that people who want to get in touch with me have to go through the arduous labour of, like, dialling a telephone or writing me a letter, and that filters out a lot of stuff. And I think we all desperately need filters. You don't spend your time answering e-mail because you don't have e-mail. You don't spend your time going to meetings because no one ever tells you about them. It's a real virtue!

"Yet how is it that I'm the one sounding these alarms? I just was talking to some guy yesterday: there's a conference and I'm supposed to be there, and I said 'I can't' and he said, 'but the whole conference is about you!' What is all this about? I'm the guy who's not online! How come I'm the guy with all the information? Funny, isn't it? During the strike at York we had a daily bulletin and I was writing all the exposÚs, all the information. Why was it me, when everyone else has all this information at their fingertips?

"It's very interesting. And I think that information is not what it's about. You've got to know what your questions are.

posted by dru in politicsoftech